For more than 2,500 years, contemplative traditions around the world have used mediation practices. In the last thirty years, mindfulness has emerged as a research-based intervention for stress-reduction in patients with chronic pain, and now has applications across the medical and mental health fields, education and more. Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program at the University of Massachusetts, defines mindfulness as, "the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally to the unfolding of experiences moment by moment.”
There is increasing evidence of the benefits of mindfulness for children and adolescents. Research has demonstrated that mindfulness training with children and adolescents can lead to increased cognitive attention and learning, social and emotional learning, emotional self-regulation, resiliency and coping skills, overall psychological well-being, and decreased stress and anxiety.
Art can deepen and enhance mindfulness exercises, especially for children and teens. Through mindfulness, children and teens can get in touch with the wisdom of their bodies and hearts, and through art, they can witness and reflect this wisdom to themselves and each other. Art can serve as an external reflection and reminder of the inner mindfulness experience. The inward experience of mindfulness and the outward expression of art are like the in-breath and out-breath, each supporting and deepening each other. Mindfulness activities can inform the art, and when reflected and witnessed, the art can inform, enhance and deepen the mindfulness practice. Most importantly, especially for children and teens, art makes mindfulness engaging and FUN!